A day at the Madrid + 10: Policy dialogue on preventing & countering violent extremism part 2
Representing ie university as a ‘scribe’ at the Madrid+10 Policy Dialogue on “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism” organized by the Club de Madrid was a great honor and an incredible experience. Me and ten fellow ie students from the BIR, the BBABIR and the MIR had the opportunity to get a rather unique insight into how diplomacy, political dialogue and individual debates between former statesmen and ministers, experts and important leaders, such as King Felipe VI or Ban Ki-Moon, take place.
Different discussions, led by a moderator, between various panelists on topics such as “New Approaches towards Preventing Violent Extremism” or “Obstacles and Opportunities in the Fight Against Violent Extremism” clearly showed how difficult it can be to reach a global consensus on this quite controversial issue and how emotionally involved some of the panelists, but also participants from the audience, are. Heated debates also arose in the framework of various workshops, which mainly focused on the role of women, the importance of education and online media, and the role of religious leaders in the fight against violent extremism.
Besides some disagreements, especially regarding the involvement of Russia in the Syrian conflict or the role of the West in the fight against ISIS, there seemed to be a clear consensus on the importance of the role of the youth and that it should be a priority to meet their grievances, incorporate them into society, and create an environment with positive future outlooks. Furthermore it was being emphasized that religion is not the problem, but part of the solution in countering violent extremism, and that statesmen should increasingly engage in an interreligious dialogue with religious leaders and enhance pluralism and tolerance within their sphere of influence.
Although we perceived it as somewhat hypocritical to be the only representatives of the youth that carries all the hope, the areas of agreement and the mere fact that such a significant number of former politicians, religious leaders, and representatives of NGOs from all around the world came together to share their opinions and ultimately work towards a common goal, showed me that diplomacy and politics might not be as hopeless in countering violent extremism as I previously thought.